Alright, let's get the disclaimer right out the way. Preseason power rankings are meaningless. They're just someone's opinion. A snapshot of a perception that will vanish like the warden of Shawshank's proverbial fart in the wind once the ball is kicked off, never to be remembered except by the Old Takes Exposed Twitter account if something terribly unexpected happens to somebody, good or bad. As the brokers have to say, past performance is not indicative of future results. Acknowledged. Now to our blog ...
Remember back on March 17th when the Patriots lost their one indispensable man? When that glorious day that generations of AFC East fans had wished for, prayed for, performed ritual sacrifices to appease the bloodlust of Moloch for, and pinned all their hopes on had come at last? When finally Patriots fans would suffer for their 19 years of hubris and receive their long overdue comeuppance? When our uppance would come, there would be joy in the streets of New York and Miami and even Buffalo, whose hometown team was suddenly the favorite to win the division?
Back during that dark time, there was no chance of this happening. That we'd be sitting here with a week and a half to go before the season would begin and anyone would have them in the Top 4 teams in the league. The Pats were up against the salary cap. Their only practical means of replacing the Irreplaceable One was the unknown commodity of a second year fourth rounder. They then proceeded to lose other key contributors in free agency and made zero sexy signings or trades.There was no hope other than a fool's hope.
And yet here we are. No less a source than Pro Football Talk has them up there behind only 2019's two Super Bowl teams and the club with the best record in the league who broke a 41 year old rushing record and was among the highest scoring teams in NFL history. Ahead of the Bills. Ahead of the Titans, who knocked them out of the playoffs. Even ahead of the Bucs, whom they lost their quarterback to. Again, this was unthinkable just a few months ago.
And for those who'd hoped that losing Tom Brady would plunge this franchise into irrelevance and condemn them to wander the 1 p.m. Sunday wilderness like they're the Bengals until they could draft Trevor Lawrence and matter again, you're not getting your wish. They are once again THE most compelling story in the NFL this year, and the schedulemakers recognize it. They've got five prime time games, three late afternoon games and are still drawing the networks' A-Squads.
To repeat, it doesn't matter until the bullets start to fly. But to the haters who thought they would fade into oblivion and not be their problem any more, Belichick has a message for you: